ORONO, Maine — Even though the owner of Penobscot Valley Country Club paid a significant portion of its past-due property taxes on Friday, town leaders decided Monday to withhold the club’s victualer’s license until past due personal property taxes and sewer bills are paid.
Anyone who wants to serve food in Orono needs a victualer’s license.
“They came in Friday and made a partial payment but they’re still outstanding on personal property and the sewer,” Town Manager Sophie Wilson told councilors before they voted.
Town councilors voted unanimously at their regular Monday night meeting to approve the victualer’s license on the condition that the past-due bills are paid.
The automatic foreclosure on the golf club, which is listed under Penobscot Golf Holdings LLC, was scheduled for Dec. 3.
“They paid over $70,000 Friday on property taxes,” Annie Brown, Orono tax collector, said Monday. “They paid on what was going to foreclosure.”
The club on Route 2, featuring a historic 18-hole golf course that first opened in 1924 and a modern clubhouse, was purchased by Bath-based Harris Golf Co. in 2007 for $3 million.
Jeff Harris, president of Harris Golf, said in September that he makes a conscious choice not to pay property taxes on time in protest of the high tax bill the town charges.
The Friday payment went toward Harris Golf’s $137,396 bill for unpaid property taxes, which dates back two years. The payment covered the fiscal year 2013 taxes, not the current year.
“They have not paid their personal property taxes … they’re outstanding $1,850,” Brown said. The taxes are on furnishings and fixtures in the clubhouse.
The amount of the outstanding sewer bill was not available Monday.
Orono Town Council members approved the golf club’s spirituous, vinous and malt liquor licenses because they are state licenses, but made the local victualer’s license “contingent on the payment of personal property taxes and sewer.”
Harris Golf is a golf course developer, contractor and operator that owns or manages 10 courses in Maine, five of which have past due tax bills, according to town officials.
The overdue taxes are owed at the Falmouth Country Club in Falmouth, Old Marsh Country Club in Wells, Sunday River Golf Club in Newry, Wilson Lake Country Club in Wilton and Penobscot Valley Country Club, and all five towns have issued liens. The total owed is more than $500,000.
Sunday River Golf Club in Newry owes $136,762 in past due tax bills with $94,112 from unpaid 2012 and 2013 property tax bills. The 2014 taxes were due Sept. 30, Deputy Town Clerk Kelly Scott said Monday.
“We’re headed to foreclosure, if they don’t pay by Dec. 30,” she said.
The Wilton town clerk said the Wilson Lake Country Club is “$29,000 past due in taxes. They have a lien on their 2012 and 2013 taxes and the first half of their 2014 taxes was due on Friday … Foreclose notices will be issued in February or March.”
When property taxes are not paid within a year, the property is liened per state law, Orono Finance Director Matt Currier explained. Once a property goes into lien, there is an automatic foreclosure 18 months from that day.
“We’ll be paying them before that date,” Harris said in September of the bill on the Orono golf club.
Harris did not return a message left Monday for comment.